For a gal with not a lot of spare time, I still manage to read a fair amount. I am known to always have a printed book, audiobook, comic book or magazine rolling at all times (usually more than just one). So I want to share with you the stuff I am currently absorbed in. Some will be new releases, other will be ones I am finally getting too. I hope you enjoy, and in turn hook me up with some fresh suggestions that I can tackle next week.
Teenagers seem to have a knack for assuming they know everything, and Benny Imura is no different. At least that is how it appears during the start of this story. The books are centered around soon to be fifteen year old Benny. He, his brother Tom, and friends live in the small town of Mountain Side. Mountain Side is quietly nestled in central California where traders (much like the old Pony Express) deliver news and supplies to each of the other energy deficient towns. Everything in between the communities is just the vast “Rot and Ruin”.
About fourteen years prior when Benny was a little over a year old, an event took place which people have come to know as “First Night”. It was the night (or weeks/months) where the dead decided to start eating people. The zombie rules are pretty standard, when noise and flesh attracts them, the zoms attack.
Benny first comes off as you would expect. An angry, bored teenager. He can’t stand his brother Tom who raised him. He has to find a job in this new society with zero drive to do so. He idolizes bad roll models, and he anxiously awaits the next print of Zombie Cards (action cards of heroes in the Ruin).
When I read the first novel, I was impressed how much the characters sparked some nostalgia of what I remember it felt like being a teenager. We all had those moments where we remember, or viewed things slightly off centered. We had unjust reactions to that perception.
In short Benny fails at every job he tries to get. He and his pals sit at the local store and listen to the amazing stories of the bounty hunters. They wished to have a job with similar astonishing stories to tell. Benny’s brother Tom is also a bounty hunter, however in his childhood rebellion Benny has no respect for him and can’t understand why many of the town folks do. It goes back to what I was saying about teenagers have a knack for assuming they know everything.
Tom Imura is so well written. He and his brother lost their parents on First Night. Now Tom is in his mid-thirties dealing with raising a teenager. Maberry nails their characters. The struggle of what it would take to raise your younger brother in an apocalypse is written with a poise that makes sense. I love any book where you can get behind the cast. We also get to follow Nix (Benny’s red head fiery love interest) and are introduced to Lila (The Lost Girl). Lila has spent most of her life living in solitude in the Ruin. The characters round out the cast nicely. The mentor, the student, the love interest, and the bad guys. As the story progresses we are also are introduced to Chong, Morgie and Riot (Benny’s best friends), and a handful of colorful bounty hunters.
Going into these book, I thought it would be about a kid zombie hunter. Surprisingly, I found it more about a kid learning what is was to be human. The basic importance of humanity. In this story character virtues are tested more by the evil of men than the flesh eaters. It proves that zombies are nothing compared to the evil ways of the living.
The story line takes place in a little over a year, and you can see how far Benny has come. He is becoming a man. He is taking on the wisdom and morality it takes to grow.
Each book has an intense fight for survival. Not only a survival in physical sense, but spiritually as well. They battle villainous bounty hunters, brutal torture camps, and religious cults. We watch as they to figure out what it all means and how it all works. Most importantly, they learn how to strive forward and not be stuck in one place. I know I sound like a cheerleader for Team Imura and pals, (and maybe I am) but I just found the storyline refreshing. It gave me what I wanted. Zombies, battles, survival, and established characters that you walk away from feeling great that they existed.
What a great author Jonathan Maberry is to add to your shelves! There are always extra short stories in addition to keep you going between books. For example: the Rot and Ruin story continues with IDW's comics that take place between the books. You can also find a handful of other short stories that go along with the plot.
You can find Jenny on Twitter: @robiart